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An eccentric philosopher once proposed that enormous geometrical figures should be built in the great plains and steppes of the earth, to attract the attention of the inhabitants of the moon; and it was argued that if this were followed by the appearance of other geometrical figures on the surface of our satellite, we should know that there were lunar inhabitants, and that they were of sufficient intelligence to understand mathematics. Nobody doubts it. We should not see them building up the figures, and they would not see us; but the truths of geometry being the same for all worlds, we should infer corresponding intelligence from corresponding results. It should be no less convincing to us when the Lord of all Worlds has displayed His mechanics and chemistry before us in the countless organic forms which have been slowly evolved by natural processes, though we cannot see Himself, and "His footsteps are not known!"
THE WISDOM OF THE ALMIGHTY SEEN IN EVOLUTION.
§ 1. Grandeur in the View.
CARRYING in our minds a correct idea of what is meant by creation, have we lost anything by adopting the Theory of Evolution? Mr Darwin says, There is grandeur in this view of life with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms, or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, have been and are being evolved.1 If this view of the origin of the first living forms were the only one to which the theory of evolution could point, there would at least be no difficulty in the way of our argument; for, as pointed out by a Quarterly reviewer,2 it would be impossible to suppose that the Creator of the rudimental germ, which was to produce as its issue this existing world, could, after myriads of years, awake out of sleep and be astonished at the actual result. The primary design must be credited with the whole of the final issue; intention in nature having once existed, the test of the amount of that intention is not the commencement, but the end; not the first low organism,
1 Origin of Species. Conclusion.
2 Quart. Rev., July 1869; art. "The Argument of Design."
but the climax and consummation of the whole. though Mr Darwin's view of the origin of life on the globe is consistent with the origin of species by Natural Selection, it can have no place in the general doctrine of Evolution, unless it be explained so as to mean that the first living forms were evolved from inorganic matter. Let us suppose that they were so evolved; and besides admitting that species are formed through the gradual accumulation of variations, let us admit that the origin of the variations is found ultimately in external conditions, and then-What is to be said for design? Surely we have gained rather than suffered; for whatever can be said of the appearances of design in things as they exist, can be said of the "conditions" which were their necessary prelude, the means of their production, and said with greater multiplication the more the stages and the longer the process. For instance, if the fitnesses and adaptations which make an animal body to be an exquisite piece of machinery are every one traceable to outward conditions, the outward conditions must have been exactly fitted to produce the inward modifications, and therefore the mutual relation between the parts of the structure has had its counterpart in the mutual relation of the conditions. If two organs, A and B, are correlated together, or a certain variation in A is correlated with a variation in B, then the external cause of the variation in A must be correlated with the external cause of the variation in B in a corresponding manner: like causes produce like effects, similar causes produce similar effects, related causes produce related effects of the same degree of relation. Whatever appearance of design exists in living structures, would have its corresponding appearance in the causes, if the causes could
all be seen; and whatever reason there is for using the term "machinery" of the one, exists also for using it of the other. It is obvious that this argument will not be weakened if the causal conditions are themselves traced back to prior causes, and those to others, till we come to the original nebulosity; every link is similarly forged, and similarly supports its fellow; our wonder increases with the length of the chain, and the highest link of nature's chain is attached to Jupiter's chair. Huxley admits this, when he says that if the doctrine of Evolution be true, it is no less certain that the existing world lay, potentially, in the cosmic vapour; and that a sufficient intelligence could, from a knowledge of the properties of the molecules of that vapour, have predicted, say the state of the Fauna of Britain in 1869, with as much certainty as one can say what will happen to the vapour of the breath in a cold winter's day. Consider a kitchen clock, he proceeds to say, which ticks loudly, shows the hours, minutes, and seconds, strikes, cries "cuckoo!" and perhaps shows the phases of the moon. When the clock is wound up, all the phenomena which it exhibits are potentially contained in its mechanism, and a clever clockmaker could predict all it will do after an examination of its structure. If the evolution theory is correct, the molecular structure of the cosmic gas stands in the same relation to the phenomena of the world as the structure of the clock to its phenomena. This admission from so clear-headed a thinker is important; for although we may not think his simile perfect, yet it leaves us room to say that the molecular mechanism had a designer; that the great cosmic clock, if it can readily run down of itself, requires a being first 1 Academy, October 1869.
to wind it up. In this respect, then, design stands as well as it did before, and wisdom receives new illustration.
How vast the conceptions to which the subject introduces us! Natural history is no longer the mere classifying and cataloguing of a fixed number of forms, which remain always the same; the history of life is no longer comprised within a few thousands of years. Almost like the limitless spaces of the astronomer are the ages behind ages of the paleontologist; the boundary that hemmed us in is removed, and in both cases we breathe a freer air. The vista of the theatres of life through long ages past; the successive series of plants and animals-vital wave following vital wave-extending through millions of years! Only dimly can we guess at the beginning, for the earliest strata have disappeared, and calculations concerning the age of the sun are as yet somewhat vague. Sir W. Thomson's investigations lead him to the conclusion that the sun may have illuminated the earth for "a hundred million years past -almost certainly not for five hundred millions of years"-one hundred millions is the lower limit, and life. on the earth may have originated we know not how soon after that. Once rooted, the life maintained its place; when the conditions changed, it responded to the stimulus, and suited itself to the new circumstances; when continents were going down, it migrated; when its own multiplying forms induced competition, it grew stronger by the struggle; and now, after all the multiplied centuries, here it is to-day, in its variety, beauty, and vigour! "When I view all beings, not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the